End of Year Reflections: 2023

There is a saying often used by people of more advanced ages that the days go slow and the years go fast. Although I am not of retirement age yet, I must say that I feel this year has gone by really fast. Normally, this is because little of significance happened, but at least in … Read more

Protagonist rule #11: Give back

In science, there’s an interesting pattern few people talk about. It turns out that inventions often occur at the same time or almost the same time in multiple research groups. These inventions aren’t struck-by-lightning insights by a single scientist; they tend to be ideas that evolved and emerged in a research community for an extended … Read more

Protagonist rule #10: Study Stoicism and Buddhism

In many ways, I view myself as a philosophical modernist in that I believe the world we live in is getting better all the time. In virtually any metric of human quality of life, from the number of people living in abject poverty to life expectancy, things are generally improving dramatically. Contrastingly, most people like … Read more

Protagonist rule #9: Take care of yourself

Especially during my time in industry, a common saying among my a-type, hard-driving colleagues was “I can sleep when I’m dead.” The idea communicated was that the things you’re now spending time on are so important that you’re willing to give up everything else. Especially young, ambitious people, for some reason mostly men, have this … Read more

Protagonist rule #7: Change your mind

When I worked as a young professor in the 1990s, one of my main research areas was software architecture. The prevalent view at the time was that the architecture of a software system was virtually immutable once you had committed to it and consequently, you had to be very careful during the initial design phase. … Read more